NUR-SULTAN – In recent years, the Kazakh film industry has flourished with a new generation of directors who have gained international attention for their work. From Olga Korotko to Marina Kunarova, women are at the forefront of this new era.
In 2015, The Guardian referred to Zhanna Issabayeva as “one of the few female directors… in Kazakhstan today”. At the time, The Guardian had published an article presenting the “most intriguing characters working in Kazakh cinema today” selected by the Calvert Journal (“the world’s leading publication for culture, innovation, photography and travel in the New Orient ”- Calvert Journal website). As a director, Issabayeva is famous for the empathy displayed in her films. From the “dramatic comedy of a pathological liar” (IMDb) in “Karoy” (2007), which debuted at the Venice Film Festival, to the story of orphans abandoned by society in “Nagima” (2013 ), which was presented at the Busan International Film Festival.
Korotko has made two films which have been screened at international festivals: “Bad Bad Winter” (2018), presented for the first time at ACID (Association du Cinéma Indépendant pour sa Diffusion), and “A Pair of Leather Clogs” (2021- in production) promoted by the Berlinale Talents Project and the Asian Cinema Fund. Although through different styles (one dramatic, the other more comical), the two films explore post-Soviet Kazakhstan, from the crisis caused by the failure of communism to the difficulties of creating a “new” country. .
Marina Kunarova mixed the historical account of the Great Famine that the Kazakh suffered at the beginning of the 20th century with a fictional story to make “The Weeping Steppe” (2020). The film was listed in the 2021 Oscar nominations for International Feature Film. This achievement comes despite the limited funds available to make the film and the lack of international attention other international films have received, as Variety explains in its January 2021 article “Low Budget Foreign Language Films Struggle For stand out “.
Led by its women leaders, the Kazakh film industry focuses on modern and international topics.
Katya Suvorova with her film “Let There Be a Girl” (2021-22), broached the subject of the empowerment of women in a country where the tradition is often to give male names to girls in order to satisfy the desire of parents. to have a son. This film was featured in The Calvert Journal and won the German Composition Funding Award at DOK.fest Munich 2021.
“Mariam” (2019) by Sharipa Urazbayeva focuses on the strength of a woman who, abandoned by her husband, needs to support her family, promoting the idea of empowering women in Kazakhstan. This film was presented at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival).
Finally, “Over Barriers” by Banu Ramazanova (2021) which celebrates the victory of the Kazakhstan absinthe horse winner of the individual dressage competition at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960. The film pays tribute to the magnificence of Kazakh horseback riding. It has been featured in various international film festivals such as the Oz Indie Film Festival and the Cyprus International Film Festival (CYFF).